PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Mount Anthony Union High School wrestling team had a pair of New England place-finishers as MAU coach Scott Legacy ended his high school coaching career at the Providence Career and Technical Academy on Saturday.
"Coming into this season, I felt it was going to be one of the more challenging coaching years I was going to have, to be honest," Legacy said as the placement matches wound down. "It was a challenge all year long and I was surrounded by great coaches that knew I didn't want to cash it in, knew I wanted to coach as hard as we ever have. It was tough being named Castleton coach and having to do this and everything, but I mean, the kids handled it very well, I think showing that I wasn't going to cash it in, I wasn't going to turn my head to things [made a difference]."
Tyler Raetz was the top finisher for the Patriots, taking fifth at 138 pounds, while Dakota King was sixth at 195 pounds.
As a team, Mount Anthony — after winning the past three New England titles — finished tied for 13th with 36 points. Bishop Hendricken won the event with 89 points, well ahead of Newtown's 60 and New Fairfield with 58.5. Danbury was fourth with New Milford fifth.
Raetz, the only Patriot to reach the championship semifinal, fell to eventual champion Jeremy Fields from Danbury in the semi, 7-2, sending the senior into the consolation bracket. In the consolation semi, he took on Johnston (RI)'s Jonathan Soto and led 2-1 after two periods before getting taken down with 34 seconds left and losing 7-4.
In his fifth-place match against Middletown (CT)'s Jordan Baker — an opponent he beat on Friday — Baker took a 1-0 lead into the third period before Raetz escaped to tie the match at 1-1. Raetz scored a takedown to take a lead, but Baker scored a reversal to make it 3-3. Raetz escaped again with 27 seconds to go to take fifth place.
"It feels pretty good [to finish fifth]," Raetz said. "I had a close match with both those guys, I could have been in the final. [Dakota and I] are the only ones to [place] and the rest of the guys hopefully can do it next year."
The win sent Legacy out coaching a winner in his final match after 31 seasons.
"For the past two weeks of practice, I looked up at the names of [New England] place finishers on the wall of the wrestling room every time I ran by," Raetz said. "[Legacy said] he was proud of me and he said thanks for sending me out a winner and everything."
Legacy described Raetz as passionate about competing.
"He wrestles every match like it's his last," Legacy said. "I'm glad he recovered and had strong enough character to be able to come back for fifth and sixth. I spent about 10 minutes with him [after his consolation loss], talking to him, looking for the right words to fit, he got it after a while."
King had to come back a long way after a quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Dylan Barreiro on Friday. Starting on Saturday, King won two consolation matches, the first 11-8 over Kayne Robert from Massachusetts and the next 10-3 over Pentucket's Noah Malhi to move into the placement round.
Against Robert, King trailed 6-2 before tying the match at 7-7 heading into the third period. In the final 30 seconds, King scored a takedown and back points for the victory. Then against Malhi, King got out of the blocks quickly and led 7-2 before finishing off the decision.
In the consolation semifinal, he faced Maine's Christopher Nokomis and got turned on the bottom and trailed 3-1 before Nokomis scored a takedown and back points to win 9-1 and send King to the fifth-place match.
In the fifth-place match against Scituate's Mark Gentile, King allowed a takedown early and struggled to get any offense as he finished sixth.
"At the start of the year, I don't think he believed deep down he would be a state champ, but [as the season] went on, he believed it. I don't think he totally bought he would be on the podium here," Legacy said. "We stayed on top of him and it paid off for him. I think it's a true testament to what our program is about, to take a kid that wrestled JV for three years, wrestled youth, got out of [the sport] in middle school, started back over in ninth grade and to be able to walk out of here and call himself an All-New England wrestler is fantastic."
Ashdin Schaefer finished one match short of placing at 113 pounds. The junior lost in the quarterfinal to Danbury's Jakob Camacho and went into the wrestlebacks, where he topped Winslow (ME)'s Devin Vigue in a 8-0 major decision. In the consolation quarterfinal, he faced an opponent he'd seen before in Keene's Tristan Stetson. Stetson had an early takedown, but Schaefer tied the match at 2-2 after two periods. Stetson started down in the third, but Schaefer rode him tough and wouldn't allow an escape and the match went to sudden victory. After two restarts, Stetson scored a takedown with eight seconds left to knock him out of the tournament.
"That was a tough way to lose for Ashdin, in overtime to a kid he beat earlier [this season]," Legacy said. "He took his quarterfinal loss hard, but he bounced back to win his next two and came up a little shy. He's right there knocking on the door, hopefully his senior year will be the year."
Calvin Call at 126 pounds and Tyler Burgess at 160 pounds were two matches away from a podium finish. After an opening round loss, the senior Call, who Legacy said didn't feel at 100 percent, came back with a pair of victories in the wrestlebacks. He started Saturday with a 7-3 win over East Providence's Peter Leite, then squeaked by Concord (NH)'s Connor Stadnicki, 1-0. Then against Alvirne's Nicholas Milinazzo, the New Hampshire champion, Call made a mistake and got taken to his back for a 5-0 deficit before falling 7-0.
"Calvin is a kid of strong character, ethics, the whole bit and he wouldn't use [being sick] as a excuse," Legacy said. "I didn't even know until afterwards, he never said anything to anyone. He kept working his way through it and never complained. He's always excited to wrestling and loves wrestling. He lost a heartbreaking match [Friday] that could have turned his entire tournament around. He's been a joy to coach because he loves wrestling.
"I wish guys like Calvin had placed, but he has nothing to be ashamed of, he was a two-time state champion and three years ago, he lost in the state final and came here and took sixth and without that, I don't know if we win the New England title," Legacy said. "Maybe it didn't end the way he wanted today, but he was right in the mix for three straight years."
Burgess followed a similar path to his teammate. After losing his opening match, Burgess beat two-time Vermont state champ Jack Carney from Essex, then moved on to face Maine's Josh Smith as he escaped with a 4-3 win to move on.
In the consolation round of 8, the Patriot sophomore matched up with Mount Greylock's Devin Pelletier. After a scoreless first period, Pelletier scored an escape and then a takedown to take a 3-0 lead. Starting neutral, Burgess got within one with a takedown with 30 seconds to go, but he couldn't find another one in the final seconds.
Pelletier ended up fifth at 160 pounds.
"Tyler is another kid that had a great year, moved up from 138 to 160 and won a lot of matches, over 60," Legacy said. "And beating a two-time state champ here might get him over the hump in the Vermont state tournament. I hope they've learned a lot of lessons they'll take forward."
Keenan Taylor went 1-2 in his first-ever New England tournament. In his first match on Saturday, he faced Mount Abraham's Roman Mayer and pinned him in 1:19 to advance. In his next match against Danbury's Kyle Fields, Taylor allowed a first-period takedown and got turned on the bottom in the second and was pinned in 2:43.
"He brought it this entire season and in this tournament," Legacy said.
Austin Prendergast won a match at 170 pounds. He faced Windham (CT)'s Alex Perez in the consolation round of 16 and edged out a 7-6 victory before taking on Timberlane's Dylan Tremblay. Trembley led 8-0 in the second period before sticking Pendergast and knocking him out of the tournament.
Other competitors included Tyson Sauer, who went 0-2 in his first New England tournament. Zach Sauer, at 152 pounds, lost in his opening match to eventual champion Kieran Duggan of Nonnewaug (CT) by fall, then lost by tech fall to Maine state champ Julian Sirois.
AJ Wright was 0-2 in his first regionals, losing in the consolation to New Hampshire state champ George Tarwo, 7-3.
Sebastian Rocher and Calvin Hayford were 0-2, Rocher losing to Dan Gioioso, the eventual fourth-place finisher at 220 pounds.